“N.Y. Post Office Pneumatic Tube” c. 1912. G.G. Bain Collection. Photo via Library of Congress.
Earlier this month, we found an NYC coffee shop designed to sort, roast, and transport its coffee beans around the store through the use of vacuum-aided pneumatic tubes. Almost two years ago, we found evidence of New York’s pneumatic-tube aided mail system, 27 miles long, connecting 23 post offices, and retired in 1953.
Today, we’ll show you where some remnants of the system are and where pneumatic tubes are still used in the city.
5. Old Chelsea Postal Station
Not only is this Chelsea post office one of the many being put up for sale by the United States Postal Service, it once employed pneumatic tubes for convenience, according to Robert A. Cohen in this article about USPS history. The 1939 building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As buildings were demolished and rebuilt, parts of the tube system were also destroyed. Kate Ascher notes in The Works that there was a time when remnants of the pneumatic tubes were still being found, but not often any longer. Nonetheless, other buildings in New York City have made use of pneumatic tube technology.